A large portion of Americans rely on just SSI income as their primary source of income once retirement age is reached. Retired workers who rely on social security income receive an average of $1,200 per month, just a little above the national minimum wage earnings of one month. About 5% of those who are retired receive a monthly social security income above $2,000, leaving almost the entire majority of retirees in a challenging situation when it comes to making ends meet once retired and with just $1,200 in disposable income.

Contrary to popular belief that living on just social security income is impossible, there are millions of retirees across the nation that have learned and managed how to live on just their social security monthly check. The strategies behind this approach may seem intimidating and seriously challenging for many individuals, but once they are truly studied and comprehended, living off social security income becomes more than a comfortable reality.

The principal strategy that greatly aids the process of living just off social security income is to reduce monthly housing costs, either in the form of a mortgage or rent.

affordable-housing

Finding an affordable place to live is a must when living off social security income.

Moving in to a cheaper area, town or city with lower housing costs and an average house price of $100K is the best way to find affordable housing. When living on an income of $1,200 per month, it is necessary to pay a monthly rent or mortgage of no more than $400, since this threshold will allow the remaining part of the income to be spent on other essential necessities.

Finding apartments, homes or properties under $400 per month may seem quite ridiculous when the average housing payment is anywhere from $800 to $1,000 per month on most urban areas across the country. However, the strategy is to move in to a suburban area that offers this particular type of affordable housing. Some of the best cities across the country that offer this affordable housing nature are San Antonio, TX, Gainesville, FL, Omaha, NE and Detroit, MI.

Another alternative to save even more on housing payments is to live with relatives, friends or roommates. Living with relatives or friends can turn out to be free or highly affordable. Sharing an apartment or home with a roommate can stretch that social security check even further since the rent can be divided in equal shares. Given that rent or a mortgage is a primary expense of mostly everyone’s income, it is important to reduce this expense as much as possible when planning on living off solely on social security income, to the point where the monthly payment does not exceed the 30% of the total income received.

Prioritizing and budgeting groceries is a fundamental task to stretch every dollar as possible. Establishing a grocery shopping budget of $40 per week, or $160 per month is a necessity. Purchase low cost food such as whole grains, lentils, beans, pasta and other types of food that make you feel energized and full for a prolonged period of time, it is also encouraged to prepare meals over a projected basis so that they can last several days. Do not buy expensive food items from popularized brands or special types of foods that go beyond the $40-per-week budget. Always keep in mind to purchase groceries at the least expensive supermarket and use coupons in order to save as much as you can. Be a constant sale hunter and shop around for weekly deals on your local grocery stores. Budgeting and staying below $160 per month on groceries must be a goal every single month.

Moving aside the major expenses which are housing and food, the next major expenses are general household expenses such as utilities and services. It is necessary to

coupon collage

Grocery couponing is highly recommended in order to stay on an established grocery budget every month.

minimize at all costs the usage of electricity and water, which the only feasible way to do so is to use less electricity and water in general. Cut out all expensive cable or satellite TV plans and cut out landline phone service including long distance plans. Getting rid of a currently existing cellphone plan, along with its data and messaging plans is also a necessity. Budget a specific amount of funds to each type of necessary utility and maintain that budget under the established amount every month. When reducing all of these unnecessary expenses and opting for more conventional and traditional usage of services, the savings will start racking up anywhere from $200 to $300 per month.

It can be very difficult to live off Social Security depending on your location, and where you live. In order to stretch even further the social security check, it is fundamental to seek financial assistance programs from the local, state and federal government. It is strongly recommended to apply for food stamps with the goal of saving even more in groceries and to obtain more food items on a monthly basis within the established budget amount. Applying for Medicare during retirement, seeking discount prescription programs and other forms of assistance that can save money are also important to supplement the monthly social security income.

Given the current economic circumstances and rising living costs in the United States, many senior citizens are now opting for retiring overseas in countries where their monthly social security income can go further than in the United States. A monthly income of $1,000 per month can secure a more comfortable lifestyle in countries such as Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Ecuador than in the United States, where the needs of budgeting and reducing expenses would be no longer existent. This new and modern alternative can be a great way to live off social security during retirement with fewer limitations.

As already mentioned, the strategy behind living off solely on social security is to learn how to prioritize actual necessities versus non-essential necessities. Living each month with an income of $1,200 is a possibility in the United States, but several strategies into budgeting must be practiced constantly. The essential expenses that must be reduced are housing payments, groceries and household expenses. Apart from these considerations, it is also recommended to seek other forms of financial assistance whenever needed. It is only through these strategies that living off social security income can become a pleasant and adjusted reality.